As photographers we are asked to get paid in exposure instead of money like most other professionals because people don’t seem to value our craft because all we do is press a tiny button and the camera does all the work. We post our photos on Instagram, Twitter and other portfolio sites like 500px or Flickr in hopes of attracting clients that like to pay with money not exposure. And while we scroll through other feeds and profiles we often seen how work posted on other sites and profiles without giving credit. Just because we post our work doesn’t mean someone can steal it, repost it and not credit the photographer.
As a sports photographer, I routinely see my photos elsewhere without my permission nor credit being given to me for using my photo. For me it gets frustrating when they take my photo and never credit the photographer. It’s like if a photo is on the internet its free to use and that is not the case. And I get it people are going to steal photos and it doesn’t matter if I disable the right click on my website or put watermarks on all my photos for social media. People just don’t care. They’re quick to credit Fashionova if they’re wearing their clothes or credit Flat Tummy Tea, but they can’t credit the photographer.
How I Track My Photos
Tracking my photos on Instagram can be tricky, but I can track my photos being published on other websites by doing a reverse image search. Every photo I upload and publish has a ton of my metadata already embedded in it. I also have a specific file name for each photo so I know what is what. I just enter my file name and low and behold I find all the sites where my image is. I send friendly emails asking them to either credit me or take the photo down. Most often I get ignored and when legal action gets threatened and I include a sample of what will be sent to them and their web host, then they start to comply.
Here is the thing, I’m not so much against my photos being used or reposted, I just want people to credit the photographer. It’s not that hard. People tag brands and companies hoping for some “exposure” how about just crediting the photographer for the photo you posted.
Seeing all these Michael Jordan photos or Kobe Bryant photos being posted recently with no credit to legends like Walter Iooss or Andrew Bernstein is disheartening. People will never know who took them because people never gave them credit. I see other photographers commenting on posts and tweets saying the same thing, “Credit the photographer.”
It takes two seconds to tag a photographer or say, “Photo by so and so.” Photographers love exposure, even if we don’t want to get paid with it, and recognition of our work. We all do. If you use someone’s photo ask permission first. That would be the decent thing to do and there are plenty of people that do ask. The problem is the majority of people who don’t and just post a photo and act like it’s their own.
Such as you want credit for your Powerpoint Presentation or for you new digital marketing sales pitch, we as photographers want credit for our work. We put the time and effort in to learn our craft, hone our style and get the gigs that we always hoped for and when we proudly share our work, we don’t want people to just steal it and not credit us. When in doubt, credit the photographer.